China Still Spies the Old Fashioned Way, Russia Says

Russians, U.S. accuse China in high-profile espionage cases.

ByABC News
October 5, 2011, 3:06 PM

Oct. 6, 2011 — -- A day after a top American lawmaker accused China of exercising "an intolerable level" of espionage in the U.S., Russia's spy service announced it has detained a Chinese national for allegedly attempting to steal secrets about a Russian missile system.

While the accusations out of the U.S. primarily refer to cyber intrusions of American corporations, the Russian government is accusing China of an old standby in the tradecraft playbook: outright bribery.

Russia's secretive spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), issued a rare statement Wednesday claiming the state had arrested a Chinese citizen who, posing as a translator for official delegations, was working under the direction of the Chinese government in an attempt to buy state secrets from Russians about Russia's S-300 missile system.

The Chinese national, identified as Tong Shenyun, was reportedly detained last year but the arrest was not made public until earlier this week. Russia has already supplied the Chinese with the relatively dated missile system and Beijing has the license to manufacture it, Russian state news said, but the FSB accused Shenyun of trying to obtain "technical and repair documentation" about the system.

U.S. Lawmaker: China Responsible for Cyber Spying on 'Massive' Scale

The announcement of Shenyun's arrest came just hours after a top U.S. lawmaker in the House Intelligence Committee issued the strongest yet condemnation of China's alleged widespread cyber campaign against American corporations, which has allegedly reached into "nearly every sector" of U.S. industry.

"I don't believe that there is a precedent in history for such a massive and sustained intelligence effort by a government agency to blatantly steal commercial data and intellectual property," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said in an open committee meeting Tuesday. "Chinese espionage has reached an intolerable level. ... Beijing is waging a massive trade war on all of us."

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Rogers said that cyber intrusions of American and other Western corporations by hackers working behalf of Beijing -- allegedly including attacks on corporate giants like Google and Lockheed Martin -- amounted to "brazen and widespread theft."

In one attack on Google, the company claimed Chinese hackers attempted to breach private emails of senior U.S. government officials, prompting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to say the U.S. government was "very concerned" about the possible connection to China.

In August, a documentary broadcast on Chinese state-run television showed what appeared to be a cyber attack in progress aimed at an I.P. address based at an Alabama university.

The same month the documentary aired, U.S.-based cyber security giant McAfee released a report which it suggested a nation-state was likely behind "relentless" cyber attacks on up to 70 global companies, governments, and non-profit organizations over the last half-decade. Included in the list of victims was a U.S. satellite communication company, several defense contractors, real estate firms, the International Olympic Committee and several Asia-based targets -- but none based in China.

Though China was not named as a suspect in the report, Chinese state-run media blasted its reasoning when responding to suggestions by other experts that China was the most likely culprit.

"McAfee's new report alleges that 'a government' carried out a large-scale Internet espionage hacking action but its analysis of the justification is obviously groundless," China's People's Daily said.

Chinese officials in the U.S. did not return requests for comments on this report, but, like in the case of the McAfee report, officials have repeatedly said the hacking accusations are "groundless."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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